Music by Percy Aldridge Grainger
by Dr Kay Dreyfus
Volume 2: Supplementary List and Index
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When Percy Grainger died in February 1961, things were not going so well for his Museum in Melbourne, although it had been gladly accepted as his gift to the University in 1933. The interest from the capital he had provided had never been enough to pay for proper curatorial care of the Museum and its collections and although devoted part-time curators had done their best, the building was falling into disrepair and silverfish were nibbling at the contents. The University, at that time, provided neither funds nor resources for the Museum: it was seen as a liability.
Understandably, Ella Grainger, Grainger's wife and executor of his will, was reluctant to see any more of his precious manuscripts lodged so precariously. Accordingly, faced with the enormous task of disposing of his material legacy, she continued something Grainger had begun himself before his death and made substantial donations of thematically unified material to major libraries in the United States of America and Great Britain. Unfortunately Ella distributed uncopied originals, instead of the copies Grainger requested in his will so that original manuscripts could go to the Museum.
In the mid-1970s, the University took up its responsibility and the Museum and its contents began to be put in order. As assessment and cataloguing of the collections proceeded it became clear that Ella Grainger's gifts to these other libraries, however carefully considered, had been to the detriment of the Museum's collections, as the material given away created large and important gaps in the material already held in the Museum. This was particularly true of the large amount of correspondence given to the Library of Congress. The catalogue shows many instances where the separation of the related items mediated any kind of understanding of the true nature of Grainger's output.
After some thought and discussion I decided that an approach should be made to the Library of Congress for the material to be sent to the Grainger Museum, in accordance with the terms of Grainger's will. The approach was made, and successfully, by Burnett Cross, Grainger's executor after Ella Grainger's death. Subsequently, similar approaches were made by Burnett Cross, also successfully, to the New York Public Library and the Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. More material has come directly from Grainger's house in White plains, in 1977, before Ella Grainger's death in 1979, and after, in 1980. In all cases copies were retained by the relinquishing library. The generosity of the American libraries in agreeing to the transfer of their treasured Grainger manuscripts stands against the uncooperative attitudes of the libraries in Great Britain, which preferred to keep theirs, taking advantage of the reluctance of the executor to engage in legal action in England, Ireland and Scotland at the same time. A large part of this supplementary catalogue, then, concerns these significant acquisitions.
Grainger was careful, during his lifetime, to see most of his important compositions published, often paying half the publishing costs himself. Much of this material has now gone out of print: the Museum functions importantly in ensuring its continuing availability. But in recent years, the efforts of devoted individuals have seen a number of important works published for the first time. Groups One and Two document these publications: by Don Gillespie at C F Peters in New York, by Barry Ould at Bardic Edition, by Geoffrey and Michael Brand at R. Smith and Company in England, by R. Mark Rogers at Southern Music Company in San Antonio, Texas, and by Frederick and Elizabeth Fennell at the Ludwig Music Publishing Company in the United States. The painstaking editorial work of such Grainger scholars and performers as Ronald Stevenson, Patrick O'Shaugnessy, Frederick Fennell and Keith Brion is well represented here. The continuing popularity of Grainger's music for concert band has ensured its publication and reprinting. Frederick Fennell's monumental new edition of the Lincolnshire Posy is a significant contribution to this genre.
The Museum has benefited, and continues to benefit, from numerous gifts and donations. The provenance of each item added to the supplementary list in the Catalogue has been noted and an Index is provided which pulls together the material listed in both volumes.